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The Do's and Don't's of Shooting Video

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Below are movie clips of "good" and "bad" video. Click on the image to view an example.

The Importance of Good Audio
The Importance of Good Lighting
Frame your Shot
Use the Correct Zoom
Hold The Camera Steady
Avoid Visual Distractions
What can be Edited out of your Video



Ambient noise:
Shooting at locations with load ambient noise (traffic, machinery, others talking) can seriously impact your audience’s ability to hear your dialogue. Most of that noise is impossible to edit out.

first clip of movie

Pick a place to shoot that is free of ambient noise and other distractions so that your audio can be heard.


Indoor light: Shooting inside will often result in video that is too dark to see the important elements. If you must shoot indoors, be prepared to supplement existing lighting. Always test your lighting before you do your final shoot.

Back lighting: Figures appear dark when back lit, because there is a powerful light source behind them.

Overexposure: This lighting source is too bright. Notice that the figures have to squint during their interview and that the video is a bit washed out.

Good Lighting: Lighting outdoors is generally better for video. Here the figures sit in the shade because direct sunlight would be too bright for the footage.

Location Test

Before EVERY shoot, record a short test to check for:
Optimum Lighting
Optimum Sound

Frame your shot

Be aware of just what you are shooting. In addition to what is in the middle of your camera's viewfinder, look around the outside. What do you really want to include? What are you trying to focus on? What are you trying to emphasize?

Poor Centering: Here, the conversation between the 2 women is supposed to be the content focus, but much of the footage focuses on insignificant background.

Here the visual focus matches the content focus.


Use varying levels of zoom to either focus on a detail or to include a wide view of your scene.

Zoom in: This level of zoom on speaker 1 is appropriate when she is speaking. However, when the second speaker (who we can't see) talks, the zoom on the first speaker is totally inappropriate and confusing.

Wide Zoom: If the emphasis is on the conversation, then the wide angle is unproductive.

Wide Zoom: Since the emphasis is on the dancing, which covers a wide space, the wide zoom is appropriate. However, when the left figure steps out of view, it's clear that the camera person needed an even wider zoom.

You can move the Camera to different positions during an interview. This will allow you to focus on each person.

Using multiple angles for a shot can also add variety to your footage.

Hold the camera steady

Use a tripod or rest the camera on a surface to prevent shakey footage, which is distracting and almost nauseating.

Avoid Visual Distractions

Make sure your shot on your subject is unobstructed. Carefully select the location of where you set up your camera to avoid visual intrusions because they cannot be edited out of your video.

Elements that can be edited out of your footage

Thinking pauses: Most humans pause between sentences and thoughts. These can break up the flow of a scene and can be edited out.

UMMMs: Most humans speak with a lot of "umms". Many of these can be edited out.

Shooting Tips Summary

  • Before every shoot take a short test clip

  • Find a shooting location and time that will ensure that your audio is clear and audible.

  • Hold the camera steady, frame your shot and use the proper zoom

  • Editing can only correct some kinds of mistakes. Usually bad raw video can not be corrected. It’s therefore important to shoot for high quality audio and video.

  • Edit out dead spaces so the film will flow well